(First and foremost: Happy birthday, Mom! I love and miss you so much!)
Yesterday, while I was sitting in my watch meeting, my assistant scientist said something that really stuck with me. Farley told the group that we were now in a time warp - before we knew it, we would be waking up in Auckland. He assured us that it would be a bittersweet moment, and that there was one thing he wanted us to specifically look out for: "Don't just breeze by," he warned. "Don't just learn a few more lines, a few more sails, and call it a day."
At the time, I disregarded it as a slightly ominous and nonsensical warning. I certainly wasn't breezing by my 6-hour watches, and especially not my 0100-0700 dawn watches. But as I woke up this morning, I was shocked to find out that we are already a quarter of the way through our last voyage to New Zealand. My precious time on the RCS is rapidly slipping through my fingers. Before I know it, I will be at Leigh Marine - moored on land, for once and for all. I will be left without any of the watch officers who I have grown to seriously admire, without the sight and sound of the ocean, and on 11/16, I will lose all the friends that I have come to love so deeply. Though I'm more excited than ever to go home and see my family, I'm growing more and more aware that my time at sea has been the most amazing adventure I have ever been on.
When else could I banter with my friends on the quarterdeck? Step off the gangway into a new South Pacific city every week? Debate the finer points of Star Wars: The Last Jedi with my new captain? Shave my head on a whim? The RCS has transformed me in a way I never would have imagined: someone who laughs at everything, who basks in the unobstructed sun, and who hand-coils rope with (relative) ease. Without my even knowing, I have changed for the better. I could not be more thankful for this wonderful experience, and it is something I will think about for the rest of my journey and beyond.
To all my friends, family, and Josh (I know you're reading this! I love you and I'm alive!) -
Renee Chen, Wellesley College, C-Watch/Cool Watch